DIRECTOR-GENERAL of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Mr Folorunsho Coker, has described tourism as the largest employer of labour in the world.
The NTDC boss asserted in a pre-World Tourism Day press conference at the Corporation’s headquarters in Abuja recently.
The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) chose to celebrate World Tourism Day as international observances on September 27.
This year, World Tourism Day is to hold in India and is themed ‘Tourism and Jobs: A Better Future for All.”
Coker, who noted that the 2019 World Tourism Day theme captures the focus of his administration at the NTDC said “Tourism, no doubt, is the largest employer of labour in the world, even more than the oil industry because of its activities in the value chain – hotels, restaurants, strategically employ women and youths. In 2018, it employed 313,221,000 people globally and generated about $8.272tn. In our economy, it contributed 34 per cent to GDP in 2017 according to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, so the possibility for growth is glaring. It is now for us to harness our resources to engender growth. To achieve this, there is a need for us to redefine tourism, see it as a business, and pay it the necessary attention.”
Coker, who noted that most of the destinations are moribund and lacking the basic infrastructure that destinations should have, such as clean spaces and decent facilities, emphasised the need to cluster tourism assets around nature or heritage sites to make them an all-inclusive one.
“Interestingly, it requires a token investment to bring up tourist sites and assets in Nigeria to standard. Owner of tourism assets are therefore engendered to evaluate the potential of their tourism assets,” he said.
Coker also emphasized the need for collaboration among the tourism products sellers in Nigeria, to come up with an all-inclusive package that both foreign and local tourists easily consume.
“One seamless product like they do in Mecca and Jerusalem pilgrimage, which would make his trip a seamless one,” Coker noted.
The NTDC boss further said that “Our culture is evolving and the new mediums of cultural expression are our music, fashion, art, food, and these are driven by festivals. These festivals celebrate the culture of a people and the unique art that they produce helps the consumption of our tourism assets like the hotels, restaurants, and others. The complete value chain is driven by the festivals that use those new mediums of exchange. The mediums of informing people have grown beyond Print and the conventional electronic media – Radio and TV, to the new media – social media. Your potential access on Facebook, for instance, is two billion. Therefore, if you document your events properly with your target market in mind and you push it in the digital space, the impact is exponential. These are some of the things we are exploring.”
He also revealed that the Corporation has continued to partner with other government agencies and the private sector to create events that will make people focus on the consumption of tourism assets.
Coker then said that “t is only on a social foundation of domestic tourism that the simple connection of an international travel will grow tourism. Factors such as ease of visa access in embassies, country image and security are factors that can be less significant if our household industry is funded and given the environment to grow.”